With the first tropical storm of the season bearing down on the Gulf Coast, it is a good time to dust off your HR Department’s Hurricane Plan and make sure it is up to date.
Working on the Gulf Coast means the annual preparation for the possibility of a hurricane hitting your home or business. For employers, this means preparing a contingency plan for a disaster, and taking proactive measures to address not only the business interruption issues, but also the human resources concerns associated with a storm. Some of the commonly asked questions include:
1) Can an employer require an employee to work during a mandatory evacuation? What if the employee does not come back and turns the evacuation into a vacation?
2) Is an employer required to pay employees who miss work because of weather events like a hurricane? Does it matter if they are exempt or non-exempt ?
3) Can an employer require employees to use accrued vacation time if the business is closed for a hurricane?
All of these questions, and more, are answered in Cozen O’Connor’s “HR Guide for Hurricane and Disaster Preparation”, which is linked here. It is important to note that this guide is primarily aimed at Texas employers. If your business operates in multiple states along the Gulf Coast, you should seek legal advice regarding the specific laws in each state which may apply.